Generosity Produces Gratitude ~

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Good morning saints….

Generosity Produces Gratitude ~

As we are about to enter a new month; it is nearly time to begin preparing for the change in seasons. I am excited for and eagerly anticipating the cooler weather, and of course, who can forget the holidays vastly approaching …..

We can receive some valuable insight for our lives even today as we contemplate the story “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Did you know that he paints such a clear picture of Ebenezer Scrooge, that the word “scrooge” actually appears in the dictionary? I kid you not, as it is defined as “a miserly person”…. Pretty amazing ….

For those who may not have ever seen the movie; the story is set on Christmas Eve, when Scrooge is an old man. But Dickens gives readers a glimpse into Scrooge’s entire life, revealing that he was not always selfish. Though he had a knack for numbers and a frugal nature, he wasn’t born miserly …

Leaves one to wonder what happened to the old guy, huh? Well, in essence, Scrooge never processed the painful experiences of his youth, and heartache hardened him. This, combined with the character flaw of greed, transformed his positive attribute of frugality into stinginess. Not only was he stingy, he was mean. The two usually go hand in hand, and even more so with age at times.
One reason Dickens is considered a master storyteller is that his characters are so real ….

We can all relate to Scrooge, because chances are, we know a couple of them ourselves. They might be relatives, neighbors, or friends. In fact, if we’re honest, some of us are on our way to becoming Scrooge ourselves! Without question, misers don’t grow old very well, because generosity is a key component to graceful aging ….

Take the example of Anna (Luke 2:36-38). As an elderly widow, Anna likely didn’t possess great wealth. Nevertheless, when it came to blessings and favor, she was extremely rich!  Anna was a teacher in the Old Testament, one of only a few women mentioned in the Bible with this gift. She came from the tribe of Asher, not the priestly tribe of Levi. However, despite her gender and tribal heritage, she was well respected, even given a place to live on the temple grounds. Why so highly esteemed?  Anna had a sacrificial spirit, giving her whole life to serving God. That is generosity in action ….

Rest assured, her life wasn’t trouble free. She spent the majority of her days a widow; her husband died after only seven years of marriage. I have experienced that. While such painful circumstances might have hardened her heart, Anna let benevolence prevail. While she could have become a bitter old widow, she chose to live selflessly. And this selflessness led to exaltation, to the extent that her story is part of Scripture, written for all eternity. How glorious to be remembered for something as that. Anna personifies graceful aging. Her life bears witness to (Proverbs 11:25): “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”
Basically, the generous soul will be made rich ….

If generosity leads to blessing, then why are so many people selfish? And why does this trait become more common with age? There are several possible factors:

The fear some have of others taking advantage of them. In many respects, generosity is a state of vulnerability and carries with it the risk of “being burned.” Once burned, some will shield themselves at any cost: even at the cost of becoming a miser. In addition, past negative experiences will affect present behavior. When people lose money for whatever reason, a tight fist is a common reaction. In the economic crisis of 2008, people lost huge sums of money; it cost some their life’s savings. Not at all surprisingly, the level of charitable giving dropped tremendously during that period …..

There is the issue of trust. Some people are misers because they have no faith. They won’t give, because they don’t believe God’s promises, or they don’t think He is able to replenish their bank account; and certainly not increase it, if they give money away. Yet still others simply allow greed and a tendency to hoard govern their lives ….

While there are many reasons for selfishness, none are justifiable. True love is manifested in generosity. One of the most widely known verses in the Bible gives proof of this:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16).

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Loving and giving are tightly linked. Love is the condition; generosity is the action. It is also a matter of obedience. However, there is always a choice. And just as it is written “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galations 6:7), it aptly describes the generous spirit. If you bless others, blessing will come back to you, and often in double portions ….

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As these seasons begin to change, let’s look to making whatever adjustments are necessary to do the will of the Lord, and may we remember the words of Paul when he wrote: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Don’t overlook the glaring truth of these verses that gratitude is not conditional. Gratitude often comes when we are generous because it allows us, in some situations, to humble ourselves; saying, “there but for the grace of God go I” and in others instances to express love through actions rather than merely words. When we are generous with our time, our money, or our attention to others; God may be glorified and we may be blessed in ways we haven’t imagined …

At all times, in all seasons, and in all circumstances, we have a reason to be grateful. Life’s circumstances are always temporary, but God’s grace toward us is eternal. If we focus on the big picture of grace, then gratitude naturally follows. Gratitude is not an emotion, but in all truthfulness a condition of the heart. Examine the condition of your heart. Purge your heart of selfishness, and let generosity prevail …..

Let us pray ~

Father, I want to lift up my hands and my voice to worship You in thanksgiving and praise today for all the goodness and loving-kindness that You so freely pour out on me with every passing day.

Thank You for the grace that You supply often moment by moment, and day by day, and I pray that You would develop in me a true attitude of gratefulness and a heart that acknowledges the long-suffering way that You are working in so many areas of my life.
Lord I am so very grateful to You and pray that You would keep my heart filled with appreciation for all You have done for me, and develop in me a godly attitude of gratefulness, that I may never cease to praise You for Your gracious goodness to me and to all of your children.
May I learn to recognize that all of the gifts and the graces and favor that I have received and may continue to receive is a result only of Your loving-kindness towards me. I can do nothing to earn Your favor. May I never cease to lift up my hands and voice to You in grateful praise and honor to You for all You are doing in my life. May the Lord Jesus be glorified in all that I would do, say or post today, and everyday I pray, Amen ….

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”
(Colossians 4:2)

The Very Best Decision ~

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“As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”
(Psalms 55:16-17)

We make decisions every single day in our homes, work, schools, and communities. We can decide what to study in school or what career to pursue. Many of us can decide what we eat, wear, or even how we are going to travel. Decisions are empowering, especially if we choose to make the right decisions in the present which lead to benefits in our future ….

We rejoice with those who’ve worked hard to accomplish great achievements. It was their decision to invest in the time and energy that made it possible. However, material wealth, fame, and fortune are only good in this lifetime; not in the next. The best decision to attain the greatest reward or achievement is found in the decision to make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives ….

And it is by far the most important decision we will ever make. Following Jesus Christ with all of our hearts is a major life change that pours out into every area of our lives. We are compelled to live righteous lives in obedience to His Word. As we do this, we see the reward in this life and in the next one. Our decision to follow Him changes the course of our families and the next generation. Deciding to follow Jesus gives us hope that will never disappoint us …..

We read in the gospel of Mark about a man who came to Jesus asking, “Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (v. 10:17). This passage is very important to note, as this man was about to be faced with a decision ….

Jesus replied to him, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.” (v.19)

“And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
(v. 20-22).

Notice, that the man went away sad and grieved. Why? Because Jesus had told him, “you’re lacking one thing” and basically that one thing was commitment. When Jesus told him that he needed to sell everything and then come follow Him; Jesus wasn’t just telling this man to give to the poor; in essence He was saying, “Get rid of the things hindering you and make a decision to follow me.” And we see the man sad and grieved because he had many possessions. In other words, he had a lot of stuff.
He couldn’t commit his life to Jesus with his whole heart, because his things had a larger place in his heart. Jesus goes on in this passage explaining to His disciples how difficult it is for people with riches to enter into heaven saying, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (v.25), and when His disciples responded with, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (v.26-27).

What things are hindering you from making the decision to give Jesus your whole heart?

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

He is knocking on the door of your heart this morning. He wants you to get rid of and give away all those things that are more important to you; the things taking precedence over your life, that hinder your decision to take up your cross and follow Him with your whole heart ….

Yes, it’s going to cost you a few things. Might be in your your time, maybe in your finances, perhaps even in your comfortable lifestyle. You have to give up many things, yet the gain is without measure or price. Is there really a price to place on eternal life in heaven with our Lord? Is there anything more important than sacrificing things here on earth to save your soul for life forever with Him?

Jesus said unto His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

Those are thought provoking words. Truly I ask you, what real value is there on those things you are holding onto and those priorities that are taking the top priority in your life today?

Jesus said, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). “All these things” is an all encompassing statement, meaning simply, everything that you need will be given unto you if you make the decision to place God FIRST and give Him priority over everything and everybody else in your life.

Very simply, to “pick up your cross” and follow Him means your whole heart is given unto Him and there is no sacrifice too great to give Him the time, the energy, and the commitment necessary that He is asking for ….

In closing, I ask you, what are you lacking? What is causing you indecision or standing in your way of your decision to follow Christ? Can you hear that…. He is knocking. He is calling saying to someone, “Come”…..
Will you answer the call today?

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“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation….
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10,13)

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Let us pray ~

Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner and in need of salvation. I believe that You came to earth to seek and to save people who are lost in their sin and I believe that You died on the cross as the substitute for my sin. I believe that You took the punishment that I deserved for the sins that I have committed and forgave me all my sins. I believe that You died for me and that You rose again from the dead, and that whosever believes in You will not perish but have everlasting life.
I trust in You and I place my faith in You and thank You for dying for me, forgiving my sins, for washing me in Your blood and making me clean and covering me in Your own prefect righteousness and I thank You for all that You have done for me.
I receive You into my life as my Saviour today and choose to follow You and serve You all the rest of my life. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Jesus name, Amen …..

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Lord, may my words today build up someone for Your glory …..

An Attitude of Gratitude~

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“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
(Philippians 2:14-16)

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up feeling discouraged? It can’t just be one thing; but rather it’s a number of disappointments after disappointments that drag our hope through the mud of despair. We may feel alone, or abandoned by God and other people. And when we remain in this train of thinking, it can lead to an attitude of complaining, grumbling or even ungratefulness ….

There’s only one remedy for this sad state of mind: being grateful. It’s a choice to switch our thoughts from thinking about everything that has gone wrong to what has gone right. Spiritual maturity is formed in the moment we make the choice to be thankful over complaining. We intently speak out loud or meditate in our minds those things in our lives that we appreciate about God’s hand in our lives. And literally everyone has a gratitude list they could formulate if they truly set their minds to the task. No matter how bad we may think our circumstances are; and people generally tend to think theirs is the worst and no one understands; but it could always be worse, and trust me when I say there are those out there struggling with worse ….

The blessing and hand of the Lord is always upon us whether we recognize it or not. While we may have problems, our problems don’t have to have us. We can rise above our situations with a thankful heart and something then happens within us. Our burdens which once seemed so heavy become lighter. Our attitude and outlook on life becomes more hopeful, and we find ourselves expecting God to move in our behalf. We are no longer held hostage to a discontented state of mind.

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are encouraged and reminded that God loves us. We are inspired by His promises and asdured that He will keep them all. We are motivated to keep pressing ourselves forward in the faith because God is good and He won’t fail us. Our joy is renewed and refreshed because our trust is steadfastly in the Lord ….

“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” (Psalm 9:10)

Therefore, be grateful. Be thankful. I encourage you to sit down a few minutes and pause your day with all its frenzied activities and simply compile a small gratitude list. How would your life look if any of those items on your list were lacking? What do you think would be the outcome in your life if you awoke tomorrow only to find that you have only the things in your life that you were thankful for today?? Yet, even worse is the flip side: what if Today you suddenly realized you have only what you thanked Him for yesterday ….. ??
Is that frightening ????

Let us pray ~

Lord, when we are honest with You, we understand how often we fall short of honorable behavior. We know how much we need You. Help us replace any selfish thoughts, words, and actions with things that please only You today. Help us to trust You and to be thankful in all situations. Give us an attitude of gratitude to carry us through today. In Jesus name we pray, Amen…..

God is with us ….

Our Gardens ~

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One of my homeless ladies came this morning and asked me, “why are you always messing with those flowers every time I come?”

I replied to her, “I’m not messing with them, I’m tending to them.” ……

I explained to her that you must tend to flowers or a garden daily; pruning it by removing the dead or yellowed flowers and dry brittle stems in order for the new flowers and buds to receive more life and nutrients from the vine. She actually seemed interested and listened as I rambled on about flowers ….

In essence and just the same, our lives are as such. We must daily tend to our spiritual garden; and prune or remove the dead things from our lives that serve us no purpose and would take away from the life giving things that we need ….

Jesus said,  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

How is this purging done, you may ask?

Very simply by daily prayer, and study of God’s Word. When we meditate on the Word every day, we receive the life-giving nutrients needed to sustain us through that day, and we do this on a daily basis each day, as all we need to focus on is this day that we are given. Tomorrow has not come and no one is promised a tomorrow ….

The bible says, “Attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.”
(Proverbs 4:20-22)

As we seek God every morning, which we should be doing first and foremost before we begin our day; we pray for that purging to be done in us. We ask that He examine us, as David prayed: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2) and then follow through with a prayer that He reveal to us if there be any thing within our hearts that be displeasing to Him and ask Him to remove it …

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23)

Just as flowers and every living thing needs water, nutients and sunshine to grow and flourish; so we also must have the light of the Son warming our hearts with passion and conviction.
And we must tend to the gardens of our hearts with daily maintenance of prayer, and study of the Word (2 Timothy 2:15) ….

We must prune daily to remove the weeds and be careful not to water those. As I watered this morning, I noticed the small pile of weeds I had pulled, and I thought to myself, you could water those too as if they were plants. And then I realized something very strong in my spirit that came to mind. Don’t water weeds, water the plants in your life. The Lord just dropped that right into my spirit ….

Weeds aren’t just vegetation in the natural, but there are spiritual “weeds” we have to look out for like: doubts, fears and negativity that can hinder us in our spiritual growth. The enemy loves for us to water these weeds and neglect watering the plants in our spiritual garden such as faith, joy, peace, and the other many blessed attributes in Christ found in (Galations 5:22-23), which are the fruit of the Spirit ….

If we aren’t careful to stop watering the weeds in our lives that we all have, it can choke out the plants God wants to grow in us, therefore, today my prayer is that we start watering plants and leave weeds behind to die …..

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

Grace In The Garden

 

My Way or His Way….

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“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.”
(Isaiah 40:28-29)

It’s hard enough to admit that we need God; yet, what’s even harder is to “live” like we need Him. Successes in life can cripple us spiritually when we begin to view ourselves as self-sufficient. When we rely on our money, talent, family, or hard work to fix everyday problems, we can come to think or feel that we don’t  need God …..

Ask the people of Israel about this brand of pride. They had just received news that they were going to suffer incredible consequences as a discipline from God. Their crime? They forgot who He was. They lost all sense of how great God is and how much they needed Him. His presence demanded awe and they yawned. For multiple generations, they had rebelliously, willfully, even happily done their own thing — and God said, in essence, “Enough!”

Facing doom; Isaiah’s audience cried out for the Lord. Isaiah answered with a moving description of God’s awesome, unchanging nature. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard” (Translation: Didn’t you get the memo?) “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?”

God is not like us. He’s everlasting; we have short, finite life spans. He never gets tired; we range from drowsy to sleep deprived. He never feels overwhelmed; we are drowning in demands.”His understanding is unsearchable”; our thought processes are transparent and predictable, at best ….

God is so beyond us, and we need Him. The good news is He delivers exactly what we’re desperate for in our weakest moments.“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” Basically, when your battery runs low, God offers power. When you are weak, He dispenses His strength …..

Yet, some claim they don’t need the Lord — they have their “own program”…. “I have my act together. With a career plan and solid education, I’m heading in a good direction. My future’s bright.” …. “My education is going to give me all I need.” They may not say they don’t need God, but they live like it … If that’s you, surrender your pride before He brings you low. Bow willingly before God now. Don’t wait for Him to force you to your knees ….

Like Isaiah’s original audience, we live in decadent days among people who disdain and dilute God’s awesome character. Followers of Christ face a similar choice: flirt with your perceived self-sufficiency until disaster comes, or admit your desperation without Him now and seek Him while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).

When trouble comes, do you rely on yourself or depend on God? Do you take matters into your own hands or wait for God’s provision in His timing?

Literally everyone needs the Lord. The sooner you learn this, the more you will experience His power and strength. And let us not miss the ending of this chapter; the most beautiful promise that most all of us probably know: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (vs. 30-31).

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Self-sufficiency is sneaky. When you face a problem, what are you tempted to rely on to fix it with (such as your money, your charm, your skills)? Do you openly admit you need God? How do you “live” like it?

Let us pray ~

Lord God, I do need You. I confess that sometimes I pretend that I can manage on my own, and I try to hold my life together with my own energy and talents. Often I depend and rely on others to meet my needs instead of waiting on You. Please forgive me for the sin of self-sufficiency, and help me to replace it with utter dependance upon You. When I face problems today; help me to turn first to You and to wait on Your timing. Help me not to manipulate or force my own agenda, or to go off making any decisions without coming to You first in prayer, and laying my problems, my dilemma, my needs, or my decisions before You. I will choose to wait upon Your answer and Your blessings. Thank You Lord for loving me and being so patient. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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He Knows ~

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“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
(Psalm 32:8)

My mind has been set on a future dream. I can almost see it coming to life. It will be fantastic, magnificent and more than I ever dreamed possible …..

I assure myself of this.

I will sip an iced tea on a screened in porch. I will have the ability to lay back a bit easier. I will have complete healing in my mind, heart, body and emotions. Old memories and hurts will cease. I will have strength in my entire body and be active. The weather will make me warm both inside and out without me stressing from the heat. Friends will be abundant and hospitable ….

I assure myself of this. And then, I think, “now God, you need to come through”….

But, He hasn’t. At least, not yet. He hasn’t answered my request. He hasn’t run to my rescue to move my dwelling place somewhere cozy and the weather still gives me fits. My body still hurts, and friends … well, that’s another story too. He has been silent. He has been inactive, or so it seems; yes, so it seems ….
But things aren’t always as they seem, and reality is a perception.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you hear that resounding question: “where did you go God?”

Do you feel God has gone silent on a dream, a hope, or a prayer request that you’re confident will bring you life, joy or peace, but have yet had it go unanswered?

Living in the season of “Wait” can feel like it controls your so-called fate. It can seem that everything hinges on this one thing coming true. It can seem like you are being held back from greatness ….

And, maybe, that is just the problem. You see, I have noticed that when I live with the demands of the future, I end up missing the blessings of now, right now, in this present time ….

I miss the smiles of the ones who want to connect with me ….. I miss the opportunities to extend service to others …. I miss the endurance forged through patience and waiting …. I miss the great wisdom God wants me to witness through my struggles …. I miss the peace of knowing I am exactly where I should be at this precise given moment ….. And, I miss the opportunities of faith, love, and hope and replace it with the overhanging fear that God is not near. This is an untruth and does not come from God …. What I perceive is not always factual and my thought processes are often flawed.

Do you feel that God has left shop to leave you standing with a bill of goods you dislike and struggle with? Do you think there is no hope of change?
Friends, fellow strugglers, here is truth: He has NOT left. He is instructing us. He is teaching us. He is leading us in the way we should go. There is not one single day that His loving eye is not on us as this beautiful verse reveals to us, as does (Psalm 34:15) “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.” He knows. He sees, and He hears ….

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

He knows what the future is. He knows what our heart desires and needs. He knows what will make us more like Christ. He knows what our part is in the mission field around us.
He knows that pain sometimes brings about our greatest gain. He knows the value of creating virtues like patience and kindness for they will one day be the currency of heaven. And He knows that our grief, sorrows, and hurts will ultimately produce endurance, perseverance, and be able to reach into the heart of someone no other may reach …..

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Will we trust Him?

What are your waiting on, dreaming of, praying for? Redefine it.  Rather than thinking of it as a time of grueling hours that hold you back, see it as this:
Waiting
Abiding
In God’s Perfect
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Let us pray ~

Dear Lord, when we don’t hear You, we often hear fear. We get afraid that we will be left hurt. Please help us draw near to You. Help us to know Your voice. Help us to know that You care for us far more than we can even think or imagine. Help us to bask us in Your love. Drown us in Your compassion. Soak us in all things You. We want to do Your will. Give us faith to follow through.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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What Might I Do??

Lord, what can I do for you today?

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy (rejoice) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:10-11)

“Lord, please bless my friend” …
“Lord, please take care of my children” …
“Lord, please heal my hurting heart” …
“Lord, please help me with my finances” …
“Jesus, I need You right now” …..

If I could stack up my prayer requests, I’m sure they’d reach the sky. I’ve been bringing them to God for a long time, sometimes whispered in a time of crisis, and other times as I settle in the morning for my quiet time. I love that God is receptive to each request and hears every single one, whether whispered in quiet supplication, or uttered with only groaning in my heart and silent tears ….

However, a while back, I started praying a little differently. I started talking to God as if He were truly a friend, someone who wasn’t just the recipient of my requests, but a dear friend where the conversation was mutual. This idea might seem strange to some, but it’s very biblical ….

In (Romans 5), Paul reminds us that Jesus came to earth as a result of God’s love for us. It was God’s desire that the cross and resurrection forever break down walls that sin had erected. Paul doesn’t stop there, however. He joyfully shares that this reconciliation brought us into a wonderful new relationship with God ~that of a true friend ….

This concept of God as a friend doesn’t diminish His sovereignty or the fact that He is all mighty and all powerful. Rather it reveals His desire not only to know us, but to be known ….

I would never come to a friend with only requests of needs or only praise of their virtues. I would tune in to that person’s heart; and the sharing would be mutual. That’s what led me to pray in a different way. I began my conversations every morning asking one simple question: My Lord, is there anything that I can do that would bring You joy today? Reveal it to me ….

That simple question led to answers, some of them surprising. One day I was rocking with my little dog as I studied the Word, and something I read made me feel so warm and content, and so I sang a silly little song to him and he snuggled in close. I heard, “This brings me joy” ….

Those words came from deep within. A confirmation that God was delighted by what I was doing ….

He saw something I didn’t. Perhaps it was the fact that my little dog was snuggled in next to me and that moment was building security in my heart. I’ll never know for sure, but it brought God joy and that was enough for me. And then I had joy just knowing that my Savior was pleased with me ….

On another day, a friend messaged me. She was having a bad day. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I felt that gentle tug so I messaged her and we chatted for no more than 15 minutes. I ended our conversation with the words, “I love you big time and I’m going to pray for you.” Then I knelt and prayed before going on with my scheduled tasks for the day ….

There it was again. That inner knowing ~
“This brings me joy” ….

I had assumed it was the bigger things that brought God joy. You know, like telling someone about Jesus or changing the world. Certainly, these are beautiful in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, but these small moments matter to God, too. And that thought was monumental in changing how I pray, and the quality of the time I spend with my Lord ….

As we begin our everyday conversations with God asking, “what might I do to bring You joy today Lord?” our spiritual ears start to open. We might discover that some of the smallest events of our day are actually miracles, as we partner with God to love people. And there is an old saying that I once heard that always stuck with me;
“there is no such thing as coincidences. In reality,  coincidences are actually small miracles performed by God that usually go unnoticed” ….

Coming to God as a friend as well as our heavenly Father draws us into the wonderful relationship Paul talked about in (Romans 5).

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:13-15)

Maybe today is a great day to flip our prayer lives in a whole new direction…. “What can we do to bring You joy today, Lord”… Or, “Who can I bless?” We just might be surprised at the answer ….

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Sometimes what brings God joy may be buried in the heart of our request. Our prayer might be, “Lord, fix my friend’s hurting heart.” As we reach out to her with a note or words of encouragement, our response might be exactly what delights the heart of God, and in that, heals our own …..

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Let’s pray ~

Heavenly Father,  what can we do as a people, as Your body, as Your sons and daughters, to bring You joy today? Not to earn points with You, but to simply talk with You awhile; to hear Your heart, as well as to share mine. I know my joy in You is wherein my strength is found, therefore, reveal to my spirit by the power of the Holy Ghost how I may honor You the most, and what I may do bring You joy today. In Jesus name I pray, Amen…

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